Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

What are the Odds?

Saturday, November 21st, 2015


Today with the excellent Kate Green I was working with some young people in Birmingham planning a walking adventure in the City Centre on Tuesday. All was going well and as planned we moved on to the Risk Assessment section in which we ask the students to think through what the risks of the trip may be, if these are acceptable and how we mitigate against them. The first risk they thought of was ‘being blown up’. It may have been that they were playing a deadpan game of winding us up. I hope they were. If they were they were playing it very straight and consistent. We played along, to an extent; after all it is a risk.
Continue reading “What are the Odds?” »

Being In Time

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015


On Saturday at 06:30 I experienced Something Good outside Birmingham Cathedral; dawn happened. As Dan Jones’ composition for the cathedral choir swirled around the churchyard, the streetlights clicked off in small clusters and a felt the lightness that came from realising that when I had arrived it had been the night and now, possibly fifteen minutes later, it had become the day. Although I have more than a passing acquaintance with dawn I cannot recall the last time I experienced like this. Usually I am in my own world noting the presence of dawn with more or less pleasure, on Saturday I experienced being in time and it was a joyous feeling. Continue reading “Being In Time” »

Chas Ambler

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

It was a wonder that I was able even to see Chas Ambler. He was a mature student, in the third year studying theatre at Lancaster University when I had just arrived, a naïf first year student. Rumour had it that Chas drove round the town in a decommissioned London Taxi, that he had worked with counter cultural pranksters The Natural Theatre Company and that he smoked marijuana. We existed in different dimensions. Continue reading “Chas Ambler” »

Street Spy 2

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015


Years ago the Birmingham Post published a special supplement to celebrate Birmingham’s first Arts Fest. I wrote a piece which was half poem and half observational game. It was quite fun so when a local shop asked if we had anything for a newspaper they were planning to publish we sent them a copy of Street Spy and suggested we could do something similar for them. They liked it and agreed but things aren’t quite that simple when art and shops meet. Continue reading “Street Spy 2” »

Art Hols

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

So the Yarkers eschewed Tuscany for yet another year and went, as usual, to the West coast of France. With a pin in a map we found ourselves in the Saint Jean de Monts, a jolly seaside town which became even more jolly when the lottery came to town.

From what we could deduce, as a kind of thank you / promotional push, the French lottery send at least one road show around the country and on 22nd July our paths crossed.
Continue reading “Art Hols” »

Clive Dutton

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015


It was very sad yesterday to learn of the death of Clive Dutton. He was an amazing man.

I’m not going to rehearse his biography here as a professional journalist has written a proper obituary, but certainly our experience of Clive tallies with everything said about him in that obituary.

Clive had vision, energy and charisma. He was the Executive Director of Regeneration at Birmingham City Council when we met him. It was at a time when we didn’t feel we were getting much traction in the city and someone had recommended with visit Mr. Dutton. Continue reading “Clive Dutton” »

Geoff Sims

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

It was with great sadness I learned late last week that Geoff Sims has died. Geoff was Director of mac birmingham when Stan’s Cafe first made contact with the venue in 1991. He was always very supportive to us, as he was to very many people. He was a warm and generous person who I was always very pleased to bump into in and around Birmingham’s arts scene – particularly at mac.

Dorothy Wilson’s Obituary for her friend and colleague filled in many details of Geoff’s professional life and confirmed what a great contribution he made to the region’s artistic community. There is an opportunity to celebrate this contribution through contributions to a Photographic Fund started by mac birmingham in his honour (email for details).

Geoff Sims (1944 – 2014) RIP

Risk Analysis

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015


The clock is ticking down on the deadline for the final submission of our business plan to Arts Council England. Once this is approved it will confirm our successful application to remain an National Portfolio Organisation, meaning we are given a sum of money to help us pursue and agreed program of arts activity over the next three years. One of the most recent elements added to our plan has been a detailed risk assessment. Ros Robins, who has been helping us shape our business plan, introduced us to a risk weighting matrix that she has recently deployed helping the Everyman in Liverpool to it’s acclaimed reopening. The matrix sets out risks on the left hand column followed by consequences, mitigation Etc. In the centre is a column for weighting the runs from boring “improbable x insignificant impact” combination to the abandon ship “highly probable and catastrophic”. Continue reading “Risk Analysis” »

Sneeze Film

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Friend of Stan and former board member Peter Fletcher has finally had a film made of his most famous artistic undertaking. It’s a great project and a beautiful film. Watch and marvel.

Sporting Performance

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

I have been very much enjoying this summer of sport. The domestic football season seems to go on so long and become so all pervading that it’s a relief when other sports get some exposure.

The double dose of athletics has been particularly refreshing. This very excellent TED Talk helps us see all this running and jumping in an arresting new light. Are athletes really getting Faster, Better or Stronger or are they just being more carefully selected and using better equipment with a different mindset? Watch and learn.

Tune in to The Commentators to hear if the Moseley Folk Festival really is getting better each year – they will be using the same lip-mics they always have.

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